How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven

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Ever wonder how to best cook a spaghetti squash?  There are a lot of methods out there, and while some are easier than others, I prefer one of the more difficult methods of cutting it in half (the hard part) and then roasting face down.  This method makes it more flavorful with a light coating of oil in the oven.

How to make spaghetti squash in the oven

Start of by washing your spaghetti squash to make sure there is not garden dirt still clingy to it.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Summer spaghetti squash recipes

Next, grab a cutting board and an large, sharp knife.  Get ready to use all the strength you have.  Start by hacking off the top stem area.

How to cook spaghetti squash in the oven

You can cut off the bottom too so that you have a nice flat base.  Using your knife and muscle power, cut this big gourd down the middle.  This took a lot of power, cursing and a few breaks before it finally gave way.

Making spaghetti squash in the oven

Next, scoop out the seeds and innards.

Spaghetti squash recipes

Brush the inside of each half with a coating of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

How to roast spaghetti squash in the oven

Place face down on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.  Roast for about 45 minutes, or until soft and steamy.

Cooking spaghetti squash in the oven

You will know it is done when you can easily puncture with a fork.

Roasting spaghetti squash in the oven

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes so you do not burn yourself.

How to cook spaghetti squash in the oven easily

Delicious summer spaghetti squash recipes

Using a fork, scrape the inside of the spaghetti squash.  The flesh naturally create long strands like spaghetti.

How to make spaghetti squash in the oven

I love the flavor so much I can eat is straight out of the squash, but there are a lot of great ideas on ways to flavor it, like spaghetti sauce, making a feta and basil dish, or even Alfredo.  Enjoy!

Mealtime Monday: Fried Chicken Tenders

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One of my favorite meals to eat growing up was fried chicken tenders.  They are SO GOOD!!  I love fried chicken, but can get weirded out by tendons or bones or strange texture pieces, so this is the perfect way to enjoy fried chicken for me.  These little guys can be served as an appetizer or as a meal with a side.  While they are great paired with mashed potatoes or mac ‘n cheese, you can lighten them up by serving with a salad or some fruit.

Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe - Best ever!!


  • 1 bag frozen chicken tenders (completely thawed)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon Season All
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable Oil

Fried Chicken Tenders-Recipe

In a medium size bowl, mix together flour, garlic salt, garlic powder, season all and pepper.  I like my chicken salty and flavorful, but you can adjust the amount of seasoning to taste.

Making fried Chicken Tenders

Taking one tender at a time, rinse in water and dip into the flour mixture.

Making Fried Chicken Tenders at home

Flip it around and pat down to make sure you get a nice coating on all sides.

Easy Fried Chicken Tenders

Set aside onto a plate and continue until all chicken tenders are coated.  Reserve the flour mixture for now as you may want to re-dip the chicken before frying if you see missing or wet spots in the coating.

Homestyle Fried Chicken Tenders

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add about a 1/2 inch of oil.  Test oil with a pinch of flour to make sure it is hot enough before adding chicken. Cook on the first side for 3-5 minutes, or until it starts to set and become golden.

Homestyle Fried Chicken Tenders recipe

Flip and cook the opposite side.

Easy Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe

You may want to flip one more time if the first side does not get crispy enough.  You do not need to worry about cooking it through, but you want to make sure you have a nice crispy coating on all sides.

Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe-Yum!

Remove chicken from skillet and set on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.  Repeat with all remaining pieces of chicken.

Fried Chicken Tenders

Place chicken in oven safe glass baking dishes in a single layer.  Pop into the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through.  Try to flip part way through, but make sure to be careful to not rip the coating off.  If they are stuck to the pan too much and soggy, then they are not quite ready to flip yet.

Baking fried Chicken Tenders

Remove from oven and back onto a paper towel to absorb any more oil.

Baked fried Chicken Tenders

Serve and enjoy!  A great game day appetizer or dinner plan.  Happy Mealtime Monday!

Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe

Mealtime Monday: Skillet-Toasted Penne with Chicken Sausage

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I have been a bit sporadic with Mealtime Monday posting this year, but I’m back today with a recipe idea from Cooking Light for skillet toasted penne pasta.  By slowly cooking the pasta in a skillet, it brings out a lot of flavor.

Skillet penne pasta recipe for dinner


  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 13 ounces Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • Grated parmesan cheese

Skillet penne pasta ingredients

I have started being better about prepping my ingredients prior to starting the meal to help with the panic mid cooking of needing something that is not yet clean and cut.  Also, since I have been working longer days lately, Alex has been fantastic with prepping and even cooking more, so it has been great!

Skillet penne pasta prep

While prepping the ingredients, you can add your stock to a saucepan on simmer.  You want to keep your broth warm for this recipe throughout, but not to have it boiling.

Broth for skillet penne pasta

Next, in a large skillet over medium/high heat add 1 tablespoon oil and your dry penne pasta.

Skillet penne pasta for dinner

Saute for about 5 minutes or until you start to see some browning and smell the nutty flavor.

Skillet penne pasta

Remove pasta into a bowl and set aside.

Penne pasta with spinach recipe

In the same skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, onion & sausage (removed from casing).

Penne pasta with spinach & sausage recipe

Saute until onions are softened and the meat is cooked through, using your spatula to crumble the sausage as it cooks.

Penne pasta with spinach

Set the meat mixture aside.

Skillet penne pasta with sausage

Add your toasted pasta back into the original skillet and reduce heat to medium/low.  Add one cup of your warmed stock at a time, allowing it to absorb and cook down before adding more.

Skillet penne pasta for dinner

This process will take awhile, so be patient.  You will notice the pasta soften & plump more with each addition of stock.

Skillet penne pasta for dinner tonight

Once you are on the last cup of stock, add your spinach to the pan.

Skillet penne pasta recipe for dinner tonight

Stir around to allow the spinach to wilt and mix in with the pasta.

Penne pasta with spinach and sausage

Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the meat mixture, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt & pepper flakes to the pan.  Stir together and remove from heat.

Penne pasta with spinach and sausage recipe

Serve and top with a little more parmesan cheese if desired. This is a time consuming meal and not great for a weeknight, but very flavorful and worth it on occasion.

Skillet penne pasta recipe for dinner

Mealtime Monday: Shredded Beef Chimichanga

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I have a soft spot for a good Chimichanga. Starting when I was a kid, we would go to Cafe Delicias in Auburn and enjoy their amazing shredded beef Chimichangas.  Years have gone by and I have never considered trying to make them at home.  Then one fateful day while browsing Pinterest I stumbled across a recipe from Jam Hands for homemade Chimichangas.  It was on!  Plus this is another great way to use leftover meat from my favorite Slow Cooker French Dip recipe.

shredded beef chimichanga recipe


  • 2 cups shredded beef (I used left over meat from making crockpot french dip sandwiches)
  • 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes with jalapeños
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 large flour tortillas
  • Cooking oil
  • Shredded cheddar & mozzarella
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream

shredded beef chimichanga ingredients

In a small saucepan, combine shredded beef, diced tomatoes, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin.  Heat over medium high heat until warmed through and boiling, about 10 minutes.

shredded beef chimichangas recipe

Remove from heat.  Strain out excess liquid.

Amazing chimichangas recipe

Place a handful of the grated cheeses down the center of each tortilla.

chimichangas recipe

Next add a heap of the meat mixture.

Easy shredded beef chimichangas recipe

Now the tricky part, folding the tortilla into a nice tight packet.  This is best explained in photos.

Amazing shredded beef chimichangas at home

How to roll a chimichanga

Secure with toothpicks.

How to make beef chimichangas at home

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Place the Chimichangas into the pan, folded side down first.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until nicely browned.

making shredded beef chimichangas

Flip and repeat on the other side.

Easy shredded beef chimichanga recipe

Remove from the pan onto paper towels to absorb the excess oil before serving.

Amazing chimichanga recipe

Before serving, top with a sprinkle of grated cheeses, sour cream, guacamole and jalapeños.  Soooo good!!  Enjoy :)

Amazing shredded beef chimichanga recipe

Mealtime Monday: Kielbasa Pasta Recipe

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Mealtime Monday has been a bit more sporadic this year so far, but here I am again with an easy weeknight meal to share.  I can’t believe how fast this month is flying by.  It is already the 24th and this is only my 2nd post of the month.  Wow.  In the last few weeks we went to Reno for my company trip, had friends over for an appetizer party, I got sick with a head cold and then we moved offices at work.  Crazy busy indeed.  Anyways, back to the food, with this recipe from Taste of Home for Kielbasa Sausage Pasta.

Kielbasa pasta recipe with tomatoes, bell pepper and onion


  • 1 pound pre-cooked kielbasa sausage, cut into small pieces
  • Angel hair pasta (I cook 1/2 the box and it makes about 4 hearty servings)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 can diced stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • Grated parmesan

Kielbasa pasta recipe

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add cooking oil, bell pepper, garlic and onion.  Sauté for about 5-10 minutes to soften veggies and heat sausage.

Kielbasa pasta with tomatoes, bell pepper and onion

Add the diced stewed tomatoes.  Reduce to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Sausage pasta recipe with tomatoes, bell pepper and onion-YUM

Meanwhile in a large pot, cook angel hair pasta according to the directions on the box.

Sausage pasta with tomatoes, bell pepper and onion-YUM

Add butter and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese.  Mix to incorporate.

Kielbasa pasta

Serve pasta into each bowl.  Top with a little more parmesan cheese.

Delicious kielbasa pasta with tomatoes, bell pepper and onion

Layer on the sausage mixture and a sprinkle more cheese.

Kielbasa pasta recipe-YUM!

Serve and enjoy!

Sausage pasta recipe with tomatoes, bell pepper and onion

Mealtime Monday: Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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Long, long ago I pinned a recipe for PF Chang copycat lettuce wraps (recipe here).  After browsing my cooking Pinterest board while coming up with the meal plan list the other week, I stumbled across it again and decided to give it a try, with a few variations. I love meals these Asian turkey lettuce wraps that feel light and healthy on a weeknight, but full of flavor.

Yummy Asian turkey lettuce wrap recipe


  • 4 large lettuce leaves (I like using Romaine lettuce)
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper sauce
  • 4 ounces water chestnuts — drained, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions — thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

PF Chang inspired turkey lettuce wraps

First step in this recipe is to do your prep.  Dice up the onion, water chestnuts, green onion and ginger.  Measure correct amounts and set aside.

Asian turkey lettuce wrap recipe

In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground turkey.

Turkey lettuce wrap recipe

Once cooked through, add red onion, garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar and chili sauce.

PF Chang copycat turkey lettuce wraps

Mix together to throughly coat.  Cook for about 5 minutes.

Yummy turkey lettuce wrap recipe

Add water chestnuts and green onions.

Asian turkey lettuce wraps

Stir together and cook for about 2 more minutes to wilt the onions.  Remove from heat.  Stir in sesame oil.

Turkey lettuce wraps recipe

Wash the lettuce leaves thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel.

Delicious turkey lettuce wrap recipe

Fill each lettuce leaf with the meat mixture.  Serve and enjoy!  Another great work night meal to add to our list.  Now I really need to sit down and work on my cook book to keep all our favorite recipes in on easy place.  Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Yummy Asian turkey lettuce wrap recipe

Mealtime Monday: Chicken Noodle Soup

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Happy Monday! With the warm weather here in California, it seems like spring, except for all the colds and flus still going around.  Today I am sharing my homemade chicken noodle soup recipe.  It is  a great comfort meal on a cold evening or when fighting off a nasty bug.  I am not exactly sure where this recipe came from originally, but it has evolved over the past few years into the recipe here.

Homemade chicken noodle soup recipe.  Easy and good


5 carrots
7 stalks of celery
1 parsnip
3 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup flour
96 ounces low sodium chicken broth
2-3 cups shredded chicken
6 ounces egg noodles
Salt & pepper to taste


In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter.

Chicken noodle soup

Once melted, add the diced carrots, celery and parsnip.

Chicken noodle soup recipe

Stir together to mix in the melted butter.  Sauté for about 10-15 minutes to start softening the vegetables.

Yummy chicken noodle soup recipe

Add flour and stir to fully incorporated.  The flour is used to make the broth in this soup creamier and slightly thickened.

Yummy chicken noodle soup

Pour in the chicken broth and stir.  Simmer on a low boil for about 20 minutes or until the vegetable reach your desired softness. Add shredded chicken and dry egg noodles to the pot.  Simmer for another 10 minutes to cook the noodles.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Homemade chicken noodle soup

Serve and enjoy!  The recipes makes plenty of soup for two people to have dinner and left overs for lunch.  I love chicken noodle soup and how easy this recipe it to make.  Now if only we can finally get a few rainy days to stop the drought and give a good reason to make a delicious pot of soup!

Homemade chicken noodle soup recipe

Mealtime Monday: Pesto Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups

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Happy Monday!  This week I am sharing a new recipe we just tried out that I found while browsing Pinterest. I slightly adapted the recipe from Damn Delicious for pesto chicken roll-ups and found them to be to die for!!  So good!  So cheesy!  So creamy!!  Simply good home cooked comfort food.

Chicken pesto lasagna rolls-YUM!!


  • 8 lasagna noodles
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken breast
  • 15-ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pesto Lasagna roll recipe

The first step it to make a butter cream sauce.  According to the recipe I followed this sauce is called béchamel. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter.

Pesto Lasagna roll-ups

Add flour, whisking to incorporate.

Chicken pesto lasagna roll recipe

Continue whisking for about 1 minute, to lightly toast.

Creamy, cheesy, pesto lasagna rollups

Slowly add milk and continue whisking while it simmers and reduces.  Should be thickened in about 3-4 minutes.  Make sure to stir frequently to keep it from burning.

Pesto Lasagna rolls

Spread about 1/2 a cup into the bottom of the glass baking dish and set aside.

Pesto chicken lasagna rolls recipe

Next, boil your lasagna noodles in lightly salted water.  Cook them until softened, but not mushy.  About 1-2 minutes less time than per the instructions on the box.

Chicken pesto lasagna rolls

Meanwhile, prepare the filling for the roll-ups. In a medium sized bowl, add together shredded chicken, ricotta, pesto, and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Creamy, cheesy, pesto lasagna roll-ups

Mix together until fully incorporated.

Creamy, cheesy, pesto lasagna rolls recipe

Lay out all the lasagna noodles and add a generous amount of filling down the center of each.  I did not measure out the filling, I just added a bit to each noodle until it was all allocated.

Pesto chicken lasagna rollups

Roll each noodle and place into the baking dish lined with béchamel.

Pesto chicken lasagna roll-ups

Top with a generous drizzle of béchamel.  I did not use all the sauce that this recipe made because I did not want it to get too rich.

Pesto Lasagna rollups

Next, top with marinara sauce.  I used just over 1/2 the bottle on top of my roll-ups.

Pesto Lasagna rolls-yum

And finally, top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Chicken pesto lasagna roll-ups

Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until warm throughout and browned on top.

Pesto Lasagna rolls recipe

YUM!  Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving so it is easier to serve, if you can.  I was so excited and it smelled so good I could not wait!

Creamy, cheesy, pesto lasagna rolls recipe-SO GOOD!!

To serve, pour some of your remaining marinara sauce on a plate.  Remove one roll and place it on the bed of marinara.  Now take a deep breath and imagine yourself and a fine Italian restaurant.

Pesto chicken lasagna rolls


Creamy, cheesy, pesto lasagna rolls











Mealtime Monday: Tomatillo Enchiladas

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Welcome to the last mealtime monday of 2013!  Crazy how fast this year has gone by.  Today I am sharing a meal that I revised from a recipe from Cooking Light.  Funny how I thought that I posted this back in the summer, only to find it again when  going through pictures.  So today I am finally sharing my favorite recipe for tomatillo enchiladas!  I searched out this recipe after getting a bag of tomatillos from my parent’s garden.  My friend gave me her recipe for a homemade tomatillo sauce, so I was looking around for ideas to use the sauce in.  When I saw this I new it was perfect, and I was right.  It is a great light, summery meal to share on a December day.

Tomatillo chicken enchilladas recipe


  • 1-1 1/2 cups tomatillo salsa verde (see recipe here) or buy store bought sauce
  • 2 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/3 cup low fat cream cheese
  • 8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup crumbed queso fresco
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • lime wedges & cilantro option garnish


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   In a medium bowl add your shredded chicken.  If you don’t have left over chicken to use for this meal, you can easily boil a chicken breast or two in advance.

Yummy tomatillo enchilladas

Add cream cheese to the chicken and stir together to combine.  Now add 1/2 cup tomatillo sauce.  I prefer to use homemade tomatillo sauce when my parent’s garden is in full production mode, but you can also buy green sauce at the store and blend it with onion and garlic to make it a bit more fresh in flavor.  Mix together to fully combine.

Chicken tomatillo enchilladas

Pour chicken broth into a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Take one tortilla at a time into the boiling chicken broth, flipping over after 5-10 seconds.  This helps to soften the tortillas, but make sure to remove from the broth quickly because they easily become soggy and fall apart if too much broth is soaked up into the tortilla.  Remove tortillas to a paper towel and complete with all tortillas.  Next, spoon about 1/4 cup of chicken filling along the center of each tortilla.

Chicken enchilladas

Roll seam side down into a glass baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Repeat process with all tortillas.

Green enchilladas

Pour more tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas.  Top with crumbed queso fresco and chili powder.

Yummy chicken tomatillo enchilladas

Bake at 425 degrees for about 18 minutes or until heated throughout.  Serve with lime slices and garnish with cilantro.  Enjoy!  This recipe is so good and surprisingly light for enchiladas.

Green tomatillo enchilladas

Homemade Tomatillo Sauce

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What do you do when your parent’s give you a huge bag of tomatillos fresh from their garden?  Make homemade tomatillo sauce of course!  As I have been going through all my pictures and posts from 2013, I realized I never shared my homemade tomatillo sauce recipe or the recipe for tomatillo enchiladas. So, while this is a bit late and summery, I have to share it on this warm December afternoon.



  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 serrano chili, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • juice of 1 lime


Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash.  They have a sticky residue keeping the husk in place that can also hold in dirt, so make sure to clean throughly.

Tomatillos for a great sauce

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add all ingredients and bring to a boil.

Tomatillo sauce recipe

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tomatillos are soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Yummy tomatillo sauce

Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.  This sauce can be used immediately or stored in the freezer in small batches to use later.

Great tomatillo sauce recipe

I love this sauce.  I is great just as a fresh salsa with chips or in tomatillo enchiladas. I love making larger batches and storing 2 cups in each ziplock bag to be able to use in the middle of winter.  A taste of summer in the dead of winter always makes you feel good.

Tomatillo sauce